Friday, October 10, 2008

The Role of Animals in Dessert Culture

It's easy to make an impression on me. Most recently, an Australian woman I met honored me with some chocolate from her country. This is exciting enough—since I knew chocolate, even with the brand names known in America, process their chocolate differently—but would you believe it was shaped like a koala! A Caramel Koala to be exact!

What is the appeal of animals that they are frequently used to sell us desserts? Moose Tracks ice cream (which is peanut butter cup ice cream that is sadly vanilla-based instead of chocolate-based). Ice cream bars shaped like the face of a famous mouse, with gumballs for eyes. Chocolate reindeer and bunnies during holidays. Animal crackers, Teddy Grahams. Gummy bears, which aren’t quite as tasty as gummy sharks, which do not hold the classic appeal of the texturally accurate childhood favorite of mine: gummy worms.

Mascots are one thing, but actually devising a mascot that is meant to be devoured is quite the oddity. I suppose Christians have done it for years with communion rites. (Before you lambast me, know that I just making a little joke from the inside, not a mockery from the outside.) Being from the South the practice is not too uncommon for me, having grown up going to barbecue joints whose d├ęcor is entirely composed of happy, smiling, sometimes dancing(!) pigs. There are likenesses of pigs dining on roast ham or bacon, ignorant of the many names that exist for their cooked flesh.

What say ye? Is it weird to eat the mascot? And what animal would most easily persuade you to buy a food product?

Speaking of themed desserts, sometimes designer chocolates have fancy designs on them. I recently saw one with a likeness of Obama on it. It was next to some truffles shaped like donkeys and elephants. No foolin’.


***If you've decided you’re voting for Obama and want to work for the campaign, Travel for Change
(an organization separate from Obama’s campaign) is offering to fly interested parties to swing states to help win the vote. If you can’t go, you can donate your frequent flyer miles.

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